By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A small but vocal group of Philadelphia parents is spreading the word about choosing not to have their children take standardized tests in school. Opting-out of such tests took center stage Tuesday at a meeting of the Philadelphia Home and School Council.

Some parents are using their right under state law to decline to have their children take high-stakes standardized tests on religious grounds. They believe the high-stakes tests cause undue anxiety for kids, especially for special-ed or English language learners. The state uses the scores to evaluate schools, principals and teachers. Parent Alison McDowell is leading the local opt-out movement, but she says parents need to be informed.

“If you’re interested in applying to a magnet middle school, currently a lot of those schools look at third-grade PSSA scores,” she says. “The same, a lot of of the high schools that are select-admit high schools look at PSSA scores.”

A district representative said if enough parents opt out of the state mandated tests, it could affect a school’s Pennsylvania School Performance Profile. And, he said, opting out of the Keystone exam would mean passing what’s called a project-based assessment to get a high school diploma starting in 2017.